Telluride changes war stance

TELLURIDE – In the months leading up to the war against Iraq, the Telluride Town Council adopted a resolution in opposition to the war. Now, the council has adopted a resolution supporting the U.S. armed forces personnel, as well as their friends and family, reports The Telluride Watch (April 18). Also adopting this pro-military stance were the San Miguel County commissioners, who likewise had tilted against the war.

Town outlaws modified mufflers

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Harley-Davidson motorcycles don’t come off the factory floor loud enough to send your ear drums into seizures. They’re modified, as cars can also be, so the noise of the internal combustion engine is not muffled and hence is louder.

While there’s already a Colorado law about such modifications, it is almost never enforced. Now, Glenwood Springs is outlawing such modifications in hope that the law can be more easily enforced. In an editorial, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent (May 1) concedes that the law can be used as a pretext by police for harassing people. But if the law is enforced fairly, the newspaper says, it will allow Glenwood Springs some blessed peace and quiet.

Bar charged in patron’s death

MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – A bartender at the Poachers Pub and the owners of the business are being charged with over-serving a bar patron. Russian immigrant Aiviars Japins, 27, died late in the ski season after leaving the bar while extremely drunk, according to The Telluride Watch (April 18).

Japins left the bar in the early morning after losing his glasses, and was unable to find his way home. Instead, he ended up on a ski slope, where he collapsed in a stupor on a night when the temperature dropped to 0 degrees. He was inadequately clothed for such cold. An autopsy revealed a blood alcohol content of 0.382, or nearly four times the threshold for DUI in Colorado.

County opts for new housing term

CRESTED BUTTE – Like other ski towns and counties before them, Gunnison County is flirting with the idea of adopting a euphemism for what is most commonly called “affordable housing.” The choice of the county’s planning commission is “community housing.”The name affordable housing, they say, has too many connotations.

By whatever name – other locales have called it attainable housing, employee housing, and so forth – Gunnison County is fixating on the balance between second-home development and local residential housing. There is a sense among groups involved in the discussion, says the Crested Butte News (May 2), that they don’t want an increase in the percentage of second homes. Others, however, see second homes as positive contributions to the local economy.

Aspen climber cuts off arm with knife

ASPEN – For several years, Aron Ralston has been raising eyebrows with his exploits in the great outdoors. After moving to Aspen several years ago, the former computer nerd made solo winter ascents of some of Colorado’s highest and more difficult mountains, including 45 of the state’s 54 14,000-foot peaks. Climbers setting out for Everest said that what he was doing was more dangerous than what they were doing.

But at the end of ski season, while on a solo trip in a slot canyon of Canyonlands National Park, Ralston’s luck ran out. His arm became pinned under a boulder. After waiting five days for help, he finally used his pocket knife to cut off his arm, then rappelled 60 feet down a cliff face before hiking out of the Maze District. He was walking when a search helicopter spotted him. He walked from the helicopter into the hospital on his own power, reports The Aspen Times (May 3).

“I’ve never seen anybody who has the will to live and is as much of a warrior as Aron is, and I’ve been doing this for 25 years,” said Steve Swanke, supervisory park ranger at Canyonlands National Park. “He is a warrior, period.”

Ironically, even as he was pinned by the rock in Utah, drinking the last of his water, The Denver Post (April 28) was describing one of his ski trips near Vail last winter, when he and several companions managed to survive an avalanche while skiing on risky terrain.

I-70 corridor gets sound barriers

I-70 CORRIDOR – People along I-70 through the resort communities of Summit County and the Vail Valley have long understood the highway as a doubled-edged sword. The sharper edge is the incessant noise that, for some, makes conversation impossible unless doors and windows are closed.

The result in recent years has been a steady progression of earth berms, and now concrete walls. In Vail, work is continuing to create earthen berms on both sides of one residential area. Meanwhile, down the valley near Edwards, a berm is slowly being erected to shield residents of the Singletree golf course area. Along Highway 6, residents of the upscale Arrowhead neighborhood are reporting relief now that a 15-foot-high ridge has been erected.

Latest is a concrete wall to shield residents of the Dillon Valley development, at the foot of the approach to Eisenhower Tunnel. Some residents recall discussions of a noise wall when they bought their homes 25 years ago. The $1.8-million project will create a wall of panels 6.5 inches thick and 10 to 12 feet high. The top of the wall is jagged to replicate a range of mountain peaks. “We’re dancing in the streets,” long-time homeowner Jim Dossett told the Summit Daily News (April 30).

Pine beetle epidemic hits Vail

VAIL – Foresters at the Vail ski area have targeted 600 trees infected by pine beetles that they hope to fell this summer, reports the Vail Daily (April 27). An aerial reconnaissance of the Vail, Beaver Creek and adjoining areas revealed that an estimated 23,000 trees were killed by the beetles last year. The current epidemic began in the mid-1990s and is about halfway completed. The last epidemic peaked in the early 1980s.

Park City dedicates more open space

PARK CITY, Utah – Park City has another 950 acres of dedicated open space. The land is located in a high alpine area called Flagstaff Mountain. Over the last 15 years, the city has formally protected more than 2,500 acres as open space, and the town has $10 million in the bank for purchasing additional development rights.

Historian David Lavender dies

OJAI, Calif. – David Lavender, who chronicled the past of the American West in dozens of books, has died. A native son of Telluride, he was 93.

Lavender and his brother, Dwight, were stepsons of a newspaper publisher in Telluride during its mining heyday. While Dwight excelled as a mountaineer before his premature death from a rare disease, David excelled in academics. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton before returning to Colorado to work at a gold mine near Ouray and chase cows in the Paradox Valley region west of Telluride. Lavender recalled these youthful adventures in a book, One Man’s West.

For most of his life, he taught school in Ojai, near Santa Barbara, spending his vacations and then his retirement researching and writing books. Topics ranged from the Southwest to the Pacific Northwest. He also wrote many magazine stories, as well as pamphlets for the National Park Service.

He made several appearances at the Telluride Mountainfilm Festivals. Appearing in 1992 along with David Brower, he was asked about writing books. “It’s a lonely business,” he said. Even then, in his early 80s, he was at work on yet another book.

Metro ozone pollutes Sierra Nevada

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The counties in the Sierra Nevada that include Lake Tahoe are among the most polluted in the nation with ozone. El Dorado County this year is ranked eighth in the nation in ozone pollution, while Nevada County ranks 13th and Placer County 17th.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune (May 1) explains that the pollution is largely the result of being downwind from Sacramento, San Francisco and other Bay Area cities. Sprawl is also a contributor, as commuters escape the city to live in the mountains above Sacramento, generating high-mileage trips. The ozone is created when exhaust reacts with hydrocarbons, i.e. evaporated solvents, paints, and light petroleum in the presence of bright light. Auto emissions account for about 65 percent of the ozone pollution.





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